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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Monday, December 19, 2005

What We Want to See in Our Kids... -- Soc

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The New York Times reports that some preadolescent girls manipulate fellow students to maintain their social position. (You may need to subscribe to the Times Online to get this archived piece.) The article notes:

According to a study released by Brigham Young University researchers earlier this year, girls as young as 4 manipulate their peers to stay atop the social hierarchy. ''They'll spread rumors and give their peers the silent treatment,'' says David Nelson, an assistant professor of marriage, family and human development at B.Y.U. and an author of the study. ''They do whatever works to maintain control''...

...And the B.Y.U. researchers did find that boys are just as aggressive as girls. But their bullying takes many forms: they'll throw punches and orally belittle their prey. The preschool queen bee -- who accounted for 8 percent of the girls in the B.Y.U. study -- tends to use more subtle mechanisms to undermine fellow kids.

Before anyone says it, yes, you could look at this information and say, "Aw, how precocious." But that's kind of the point. Here we have a sliver of preadolescent girls performing exceptionally well... at about the last thing anyone wants to see kids doing.

Given the human enhancement orientation of this site, I find this study mainly interesting for one reason -- we've apparantly have raised one tenth or less of young girls to engage in levels of manipulation far beyond their years. And if we're going to see more and more exceptionally bright human beings emerge in the coming years -- both adults and kids -- we need to think carefully about what kind of "gifts" we want to nurture. And how we can make the practice of certain skills unattractive to budding classroom Machiavellis.

Like it or not, intelligence doesn't always correlate with honor, morals or compassion. But a functioning society usually does depend on these qualities, at least to some degree. And they'll probably be even more critical when our individual power to cause disruption or destruction, or simply to hurt those around us in subtler ways, is multiplied tenfold or more.

Which means small children who want to hurt, bully and dominate other small children are a problem for more than their playground or classroom. Ultimately, all these children grow up.


Future Imperative

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! » » »

February 14, 2007 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »

February 22, 2007 12:34 AM  
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